1960s: Humble beginnings
The story of Bowers & Wilkins starts with one man – John Bowers. Even some 30 years after his death, his passion and drive still pulse through the lifeblood of the company he founded. Bowers’ dream of producing the perfect loudspeaker has driven the company from its humble beginnings behind an electronics shop in Worthing to becoming a global leader in audio.
John Bowers begins assembling speaker systems in the workshop of his electronics shop in Worthing, South East England.
B&W Electronics founded
Following an inheritance of £10,000 from a satisfied customer, John Bowers sets up his own loudspeaker company.
The first Bowers & Wilkins loudspeaker. The profit from P1 allowed the company to invest in new calibration equipment.
1968: Domestic Monitors
The DM1 and DM3 were launched to bring high quality audio to more customers, at an affordable price point.
1970s: A decade of milestones
With the company established and growing fast, Bowers & Wilkins developed its reputation for innovative design backed up by world-leading R&D. We introduced new forms and design concepts including Tweeter-on-Top, new cone materials such as Aramid fibre, and it all culminated in the launch of the iconic 801, soon to become the reference speaker of choice for many of the world’s leading recording studios.
With its curved cabinet, the DM70 changed the shape of loudspeaker design.
The first Sir Kenneth Grange-designed speaker.
DM7 liberated the tweeter from the cabinet – the originator of the Tweeter-on-Top design used in our most advanced speakers today.
The modern era of hi-fi begins. With all its drive units housed in dedicated enclosures, the 801 delivered unheard-of realism.
1980s: The furthering of research
Extensive investment in research led to the establishment of the company’s dedicated R&D facility in Steyning. The era of MTV pop superstardom and bombastic stadium rock also saw Bowers & Wilkins buck the trend and introduce something small and unobtrusive: the “compact monitor”, or CM1.
1981: Steyning Research Establishment (SRE) founded
SRE becomes the focus of Bowers & Wilkins acoustic innovation, where scientists and engineers can push speaker design to the limits.
Designed by Sir Kenneth Grange, CM1 was developed through the latest advances in computer-aided design.
1987: Matrix 801
The speaker that introduced Matrix: the bracing structure that boosts driver performance by reducing cabinet vibration.
1990s: Rewriting the rulebook
The 1990s saw the pioneering work of the Steyning research team realised in spectacular fashion with the launch of Nautilus™, a speaker that rewrote preconceived notions of speaker design. It also saw major product launches at both ends of the spectrum, with the unveiling of the highly regarded entry-level 600 Series and the flagship Nautilus 800 Series.
The extraordinary result of a five-year research and development programme to re-invent the loudspeaker, the iconic Nautilus still influences our speaker designs to this day.
1995: 600 Series
The 600 Series made the advanced technologies developed for the flagship 800 Series accessible to a wider audience.
1998: Nautilus 801
This iteration of our flagship range introduced Nautilus technologies to the commercial market for the first time.
2000s: Expansion in to new categories
The decade that brought us iPods and smartphones saw us embrace the new world with the launch of the iconic Zeppelin. We also expanded into the car audio category and transformed the performance of our 800 Series with the development of the Diamond-dome tweeter.
The dual-opposed drive unit arrangement and spherical Pressure Vessel cabinet of PV1 delivered a breakthrough in subwoofer performance.
2006: Signature Diamond
Launched to celebrate our 40th anniversary, Signature Diamond was the first speaker to feature diamond dome tweeters.
Bowers & Wilkins enters the iPod age with the iconic Zeppelin, our strikingly curvaceous, multi-award winning active speaker system.
The 2010s: Innovation overdrive
Monumental technological change seemed to be everywhere in the 2010s, and Bowers & Wilkins was no exception.
2010: 800 Series Diamond
The sixth incarnation of our flagship speaker series expanded the use of Diamond-dome tweeters to include every model in the range.
P5 was a statement of intent: beautifully crafted headphones that were a joy to wear and even better to listen to.
2015: 800 Series Diamond
The latest version of our flagship introduced a complete redesign and revolutionary new technologies, such as the Continuum™ cone.
2016: 800 D3 and P9 Signature
We marked our 50th year with the launch of two new flagships, the 800 D3 loudspeaker and P9 Signature headphones.
2016: Start of Formation Development
2016: Bowers & Wilkins begins work with EVA Automation to develop the new Formation platform, offering class-leading wireless technology.
2017: PX headphones
2017: PX, the first Bowers & Wilkins active noise cancellation headphone, launches. PI4, PX5 and PX7 continue the story in 2019.
2019: Formation Launch
2019: Formation revealed to the world, marking the latest evolution of cable-free listening, first realised by Zeppelin Air in 2011.